An addiction occurs when a person is dependent on a mood-altering substance or activity. They become increasingly less able to control the addictive behaviour, despite the damaging consequences to their lives. The most commonly known addictions are to alcohol and other drugs (for example nicotine, heroin, cocaine), but people can also become addicted to various kinds of gambling, intense sexual activities, junk foods, gaming, and other intensely mood-altering behaviours.
An addiction can have a devastating effect on the person and on the family as a whole, but despite this they seem unable to stop. If the substance or activity is more important to the person than the problems it causes, then the likelihood is that the person has a very serious addiction.
On the other hand the person’s addiction issue may create another mental health problem. It can be a chicken and egg situation. Whatever the case, we believe that in order to give the person the best chance for a successful recovery, when a person arrives for treatment the whole person needs to be addressed.
A person may abuse alcohol or other drugs in order to cope with a mental health problem (which they may not even know that they have; this is known as self-medication. For example a person with an anxiety problem may use alcohol or other drugs in order to feel relaxed. They may then become addicted and the addiction becomes the most visible problem.